The Mark Twain Circle of America

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Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies 2018 Summer Institute

On July 10th and 11th, forty teachers, librarians, media specialists, and school administrators participated in the annual Center for Mark Twain Studies Summer Teachers Institute. This year’s workshop, led by Ann Ryan, Kerry Driscoll, and Matthew Seybold, focused on the theme “Mark Twain in Color,” exploring the writer’s complicated reading (and writing) of race in 19th century America. As the institute’s brochure explains, “Although we like to think of Mark Twain, ‘the man in white,’ as absolutely progressive when it comes to issues of race and ethnicity, his journey toward enlightenment was characterized by many bumps in the road. Some of his attitudes were remarkably forward-thinking; others were more backward and reactionary—all of which makes Mark Twain less an icon of goodness and more an utterly human being. Our hope is that attendees will find in Twain’s lifelong reflections on race, as well as his struggles with prejudice, stories to share with their students who also struggle with our complicated shared history.”

Day 1 of the institute, held on the Elmira College campus, centered on the writer’s portraits—in both his fictional and non-fictional work—of African Americans and Native Americans, as well as his many reflections on his own white identity. Day 2, held on the breezy porch at Quarry Farm, addressed his views of the Chinese. The institute concluded with a discussion of Twain’s vision of a diverse, multiracial brotherhood of man in the late story, “Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.”

Ann

Ann Ryan Teaching

Kerry

Kerry Driscoll Teaching

DAY 2 ON THE PORCH

Kerry Driscoll and teachers on the porch at Quarry Farm

DAY 2 ON THE PORCH2

Ann Ryan and teachers on the porch at Quarry Farm

lunch at the farm

Lunch time

Steve's Cat No-Taila (who I've renamed Sociable Jimmy)

Steve’s cat No-Taila (Kerry renamed him Sociable Jimmy)

teachers with QC cat

Teachers with Sociable Jimmy (No-Taila)

 

 


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